Ford Vertrek, Focus Electric, and the Diesel Ranger Cometh?

Ford had the biggest and most bombastic new-car introduction of the whole Detroit Auto Show. More than that though, they introduced the best looking concept, and gave me a lot more to look forward to than minivans.

I already spent time griping about the C-Max, even though they are coming in plug-in and hybrid flavors. I have no family to cart to soccer practice, and even if I did, I couldn’t show up at a drag strip in a C-Max and still respect myself in the morning. Sorry. Just not for me. I may love Ford, but I don’t have to love every car they make.

Plug-in-able

But after the C-Max came the official introduction of the Focus Electric. This is the vanguard of Ford’s electric efforts, and it will launch in 20 cities in 2011 before a national rollout, which I think is a shame. If they can sell it in Detroit and Dallas, why not the rest of the country? Give people a choice. While Ford is just stepping into the electric waters, they do have one advantage; they know the benchmarks they must meet, and beat. It won’t be easy, but if I were to actually buy an electric car, more and more it looks like it’ll be a Focus Electric.

Hard to imagine the Escape morphing into this

As great as the Focus Electric is though, Ford had one of the most compelling concepts of the 2011 Detroit Auto Show, the Vertrek. With not-so-subtle hints that this could be a replacement for the old-and-getting-older Escape, I think the Vertrek really made up for the noticible lack of muscle on Ford’s stage. Under the hood is a 1.6 liter EcoBoost engine, 2+2 seating (that would never make it into a production model), and wing-like side mirrors. If I saw that car on a Ford lot, I’d buy it in a heartbeat, unless…

Please Ford: give America this diesel Ranger

Ok, I want to admit that this is absolutely a long shot, and don’t get your hopes up if you’re a fan of fuel-efficient, powerful diesel trucks. However, after the announcements, the executives stayed on stage to talk with the press. I waited patiently to talk to Derrick Kuzak, Vice President of Global Product Development. This was the gentleman who talked about Ford’s overseas products, among them the new diesel-powered Ranger, so I knew this was the guy I wanted to talk to.

I started off by saying that, as a truck owner, I’m a bit concerned about Ford’s current crop of offerings. The F-150 is too much truck for me, but this Ranger I see other countries getting, that looks like a perfect fit. Why aren’t you bringing that Ranger to America?

Kuzak reminded me that Ford only sells the F-150 in North America. Then he said something that made my ears perk up; it’s still “possible”, he said, that the Ranger could come here, but that the small truck market has “shrunk from 8% of the market to about 2%”. I wanted to tell him that’s because small trucks have gotten too big, and that’s the automakers fault, but from a bussiness point of view, I can see why it might be difficult to make the case for the diesel ranger.

I think slow sales in a segment equate to a lack of a good vehicle as opposed to some change in buyer tastes; I still want a small pickup. I just want one that gets decent fuel economy, isn’t hampered by snow, and can still haul enough to be useful. It may be a lot to ask, but I think Ford’s diesel Ranger could be the answer. But what do I know?

As long as Ford brings the Vertrek concept to life though, I think I’ll be happy. It isn’t a pickup truck, but it looks pretty awesome. Do you agree?

Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to Hemis. You can follow his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout.

 

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.